Our Vision and Mission
Surrounded by nature, supported by love, we work and grow in community so our lives may contribute to a more just, peace-filled, and hopeful world.
Under the care of the Monteverde Friends Meeting, the Monteverde Friends School primarily serves local children of families who value a Quaker education. Our small, rural, bilingual school welcomes diversity. We educate the whole person, nurturing each student’s spiritual, intellectual, physical, and creative potential.
We endeavor to transform the lives of young people, so they may seek truth with curiosity and awe, and care for and honor all people and the Earth.
Grounded in the values of integrity, truth, community, and peace, the Monteverde Friends School provides a challenging academic environment in an atmosphere of love and respect for our students, staff, and community. The school strives to lay a foundation of solid intellect, the pursuit of truth, and the values necessary to contribute to a peaceful and just society.
Nestled high in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, the Monteverde Friends School (MFS) was founded in 1951 by Quaker families who left the United States in search of a non-militaristic society. Thanks to its strong ethics, curriculum, and dedication of the community, the school has successfully grown to its present size of 120 students, from Pre-K through 12th grade.
The majority of our students are Costa Rican and native Spanish-speaking, while others come as exchange and Study Abroad students for all or part of the year. More than half of our students receive significant financial aid, reflecting our strong commitment to serving local children.
The school is accredited by the Costa Rican Ministerio de Educación Pública (MEP), offering the MEP Bachillerato diploma and its own independent, college-preparatory diploma. The school strives for its graduates to be fully bilingual, biliterate, and prepared to enter systems of higher education in Costa Rica and the United States. Students can choose to take the Bachillerato, SAT and AP exams.
Some of the factors that make studying at MFS a unique, life-changing experience include:
- Bilingual education, including Spanish/English as a Second Language programs before entering full immersion
- Small multi-grade classes
- Dedicated long-term teachers and staff, who are predominantly Costa Rican or long-term residents of the Monteverde zone, as well as highly qualified native English-speaking teachers from the United States and Canada
- Holistic approach to education, reflecting the values of the Quaker community.
- Physical location that allows us to incorporate the bio-diverse tropical environment into our studies, promoting an appreciation of nature and the wise use of resources
- Access to many protected areas and to people doing scientific research creates a strong environmental understanding and ethic
“We do not feel that our gesture in coming here was a striking blow against war or that, in itself, will it have any great effect toward bringing universal peace among men. But every wave on the ocean has its beginning in a tiny ripple somewhere, and perhaps our action will be that ripple which starts others to thinking and acting so that eventually the wave of public opinion will attain the desired end.”
—Arthur Rockwell, Founding member of the Monteverde community
Monteverde was first settled by 11 Quaker families from Alabama who decided to leave the United States and settle in Costa Rica in the early 1950’s. They held strong beliefs against the military system in the US and chose Costa Rica because it had abolished its army shortly before their arrival. They later wrote,
“And so it was that with green forests, green pastures, and green crops growing the year round, we named our new found land Monteverde (Green Mountain).”
The Costa Rican farmers in the area lent their support and expertise to the Quaker settlers as they set up their canvas tents and went about homesteading.
The green pastures were ideal for grazing cattle, and as the Quakers had been dairy farmers in the US, they began dairy farming and cheese production. Their original canvas tents gave way to timber houses, which were built communally in “house-raising bees” for the setting of the foundations and raising the heavy frames. Early cheese production at the newly established Monteverde Dairy was about 10 kg per day. Today, the Monteverde Cheese Factory produces over 1000 kg of cheese daily, which is in great demand throughout the country.
Because the Quakers needed a place in which to educate their children, they founded Monteverde Friends School soon after their arrival, and it has operated ever since. The first settlers wrote,
“We believe we should try to create an atmosphere for our children in which real values, as we see them, are given first place. As part of this, a school is maintained in which we try to help our children grow strong spiritually and mentally.”
Today, the school serves mostly non-Quaker Costa Rican children who live in the zone.
The Monteverde Friends School operates under the care of the Monteverde Friends Meeting. “Under the care of” is a historical term describing the relationship between a Quaker meeting and the school for which the Meeting takes responsibility and gives oversight. The Meeting approves the mission, vision, and philosophy of the school, names the members of the School Committee, sets overall enrollment guidelines, and approves major facilities projects. The School Committee acts as the governing body of the school and reports to the Meeting, which is legally responsible for the property and activities of the school.
The School Committee serves the purpose of what other schools call the Board of Trustees. The committee is made up of Quaker Meeting members, parents, a student, the director(s) (ex officio), and community members. Because MFS is under the care of the Meeting, half of the School Committee must be Quaker. Several sub-committees and working groups, such as Finance, Financial Aid and Fundraising, report to the School Committee. Keep up to date with their decisions reading the meeting minutes.
School Committee 2019 – 2020
- Angelina Figuerola (Student Representative)
- Sue Gabrielson (Head – ex officio)
- Ran Smith (Clerk)
- Tim Curtis (co-Clerk)
- Allan Vargas
- Dinia Santamaría
- Evelyn Obando
- Pamela Holschuh
- Rafa Vargas